Senator to join python hunt
January 16th, 2013
06:20 PM ET
5 years ago

Senator to join python hunt

(CNN) - To make his point about invasive snakes, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson once brought the skin from a 16-foot Burmese python to a Senate committee hearing.

Now, he's out to get one for himself.

Nelson has spoken out on the issue for several years, and on Thursday will personally join in the latest effort to reduce their numbers: the state-sanctioned python hunt in the Florida Everglades.

The state's Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is offering a total of $2,500 in cash prizes for the hunter who bags the most and the longest of the invasive snake species. Experts recommend either shooting the snake or decapitating it with a machete.

This python is not native to North America and has no natural predator in the Everglades. Officials suspect the first of these Southeast Asian snakes to reach the Florida wild were pets that owners released after reaching an unmanageable size. Estimates of how many live in the Everglades range from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands.

"These snakes don't belong in the Everglades," Nelson said in a Wednesday press release. "They're causing real problems in one of Florida's greatest treasures."

He will join the state's fish and wildlife conservation commissioner on an Everglades hunt for the reptiles. The senator is among the almost 800 people who registered to participate in the hunt, his office said, and will be accompanied by snake experts and handlers.

He introduced the legislation which led to the 2012 federal ban on importing and trading this species and three others.

His office said in post on his website at the time of the ban that "a small-yet-powerful lobby of reptile keepers stalled the legislation - although Nelson did get colleagues' attention when he unrolled the skin of a 17-footer killed in the Everglades during a July 2009 congressional hearing. It was that same month that a 2-year-old Central Florida girl was killed in Sumter County by an 8 1/2-foot-long albino Burmese python – a family pet."

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar declared the four species "injurious" and banned transporting them.

Burmese pythons have been documented consuming the likes of a whole 70-pound deer and a six-foot long alligator.

Nelson has called for a "special hunt" for the snakes before. In 2009, he "asked the nation's federal lands czar to allow deputized agents and volunteers into the national park this winter to kill as many of the menacing snakes as possible," his office said at the time.

The month-long contest ends on February 10. Eleven of the snakes were harvested in the first two days of the contest, the state said.

Filed under: Bill Nelson
soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. Patrish

    Actually, he is a hunter – while I feel sorry for the snakes, I like and voted for Nelson. They are beautiful and it's not their fault they are in the wrong place. Something had to be done, they are just reaping havoc on our wildlife.

    January 17, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  2. lolo

    He is moe concerned about pythons than assault weapons. This is not news. Please go and do the job you were elected to do.

    January 17, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  3. guest

    hypocracy a la Nelson
    You see how good the ban is working ?

    January 17, 2013 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  4. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    He doesn't appear to have eyelids.

    January 17, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    By the looks of his picture... he might be of the same species

    January 17, 2013 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. WildMontana

    Now THIS would be a good use for assault weapons. While they're out hunting the pythons, maybe they can tear out and bag some Japanese climbing fern, too.

    January 17, 2013 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  7. Fair is Fair

    The eyes are the gateway into a man's soul.

    January 17, 2013 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  8. Kevin

    No fan of the Republicans, but as a biologist that cares about ecosystems, I wish him luck.

    January 17, 2013 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Based on looks, I think he is really a cobra and this is a continuation of the centuries old python vs. cobra war...

    January 17, 2013 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  10. v_mag

    To use the NRA's logic, snakes don't kill people; people who release snakes kill people. The NRA would logically think that we should therefore eliminate the people and not the snakes.

    January 17, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. sneeky

    I just knew others would have to post on this man's "look"... he is definitely part snake!! Scary!

    January 17, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  12. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @Anonymous and Fair is Fair: I agree.

    January 17, 2013 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  13. trythis

    put a radio transmitter on snakes and release back into wild to find other snakes

    January 17, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  14. Pete

    Hey people if you want to see snakes look no further than congress ,all kinds,all slimmey,all republicans..Been brought in by tea partiers and other ignorent republicans and anyone that believed in their BS!!We need to send in exterminators to rid congress,senate of all unamerican species from the Boehner split tongue,to the two faced Cantor and double chinned McConnell the most poisonous of all because it strikes at anything even one of its own!!So get together with Sen.Nelson who's faced many a slimmey critter in his years in the senate,if anyone would be able to hunt one he surely can because he's faced many also in Florida,remember West,he's one of his better catches!!!

    January 17, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  15. TexasAnnie

    Geez, so many tacky comments. Guess none of you have ever had a bad picture made? At least he's trying to do something to protect the environment.

    January 17, 2013 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  16. mlmcleod

    Armed security guards in the Everglades is the obvious solution.

    January 17, 2013 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  17. Anthony in California

    Dont blame the snakes.. blame Hollywood and the Video Game industry...

    January 17, 2013 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  18. Ed1

    Who cares it's open season so go for it.

    January 17, 2013 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. vinster76

    I am rooting for the python to find Nelson first........

    January 17, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  20. Wake up People!

    @Fair is fair and Dominican Mama. I completely agree about the eyes.....which is why I did not like Mitt at all. When I looked in his eyes all I saw was deception and lies. (Sorry Fair) His eyes really creeped me out!

    January 17, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  21. Outdoors

    At the risk of raising the ire of the Liberal Bed Wetters, if Sen. Nelson is hunting pythons, don't stop with the snakes. Iguanas and wild hogs are also out of control and need to be eliminated. Any yes, an AR-15 or an AK would do just fine.
    My guess is this is just a public relations ploy so Nelson is trying to give himself some political cover. He may need it. Florida is not New York (thank goodness).

    January 17, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. ODA155

    "...Actually, he is a hunter..."

    That doesn't make him qualified to hunt python... has he hunted snakes before... big snakes like python?

    I have a drivers license and I drive a car... doesn't qualify me to drive (safely) an F1 series car...

    January 17, 2013 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  23. vinster76

    vote for the python to be the first to find his prey

    January 17, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  24. ritmocojo

    He already has a python-looking face. He'll blend right in with them and then catch them.

    January 17, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  25. California Gary

    If he wants to hunt snakes, he should pay a visit to the House of Representatives......the GOP side of the house is full of them.

    January 17, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
1 2 3 4